Rohini Devasher, Neha Choksi and Tejal Shah
The Missing One
Curated by Nada Raza
Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka Art Summit 2016
5-8 February, 2016
The Missing One was published in 1896 by J.C. Bose, and is thought to be one of the first science fiction stories in the Bengali language. A research scientist, he pioneered wireless communication and a crater on the moon bears his name.
Taking the tropes and technologies of science fiction as a thematic beginning, this intergalactic, intergenerational exhibition will assemble artworks from across Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Its perspectives will be guided by a 1920s watercolour by Gaganendranath Tagore, a painting which looks skyward to imagine a cosmological vortex in the heavens. In the 20th century speculative fiction and cinema allowed expression for the wonder and anxieties of the encounter with an ever-accelerating modernity. Future worlds became possible even as hostile aliens, dystopian planets and galactic conflict echoed the real schisms of earthbound life. Exotic references added esoteric appeal – for Arthur C Clarke, the ancient palace complex of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka became a portal and Rama lent his name to a spaceship. The extra-terrestrial or non-human, even in popular film and TV, became a composite of non-western traits.
Reterritorialising these memes, the exhibition speculates if a South Asian view can be articulated, assembling and repositioning works that speak to the themes and aesthetics of the genre. It hopes to connect with counter narratives such as Afro-futurism, opportunities for the reappraisal of the global encounter with the modern and the very concept of alienation. Astral journeys, cosmological quests, astronomical explorations, alien encounters, nihilistic visions, retro-futurist experiments and a need to reimagine the future will here be addressed by artists who have experienced the wonder, the hubris and excesses of the space age from a slightly different tilt on the universe.